Poor Elizabeth, daughter of Peter the Great! She had inherited her fathers brilliant intellect, fluent in four languages, was an excellent dancer and rider, and also was commonly considered to be the leading beauty of the Russian Empire. But despite all her extraordinary talents, she saw the Russian throne slip through her fingers, not once but four times! After her father’s death, the Russian throne was inherited, in order, by her mother Catherine I, her nephew Peter II, her cousin Anna, and finally Anna’s newborn grandnephew Ivan VI. Even worse, nobody of royal rank would like to mary a princess which is so out of favor as Elizabeth. The only option left for Elizabeth was to become a nun. But the daughter of Peter the Great could not live in an ordinary monastery so it was decided to construct a new Russian Orthodox monastery for nuns, the Smolny Convent. But the fate turned into Elizabeth’s favor and Ivan turned out to be the poor guy. Shortly after being crowned Russian Tsar at the age of two months, Ivan VI was overthrown by Elizabeth and spent the rest of his life imprisoned.
Elizabeth gladly seized the power and spent the last 21 years of her life as a very successful and loved Empress of Russia. She lavishly spent mony on the grandiose baroque projects of her favourite architect, Bartolomeo Rastrelli, particularly in Peterhof and Tsarskoye Selo. In Saint Petersburg the most eye-catching monuments are the Smolny Convent and the Winter Palace which both where not compleated until after Elizabeth’s death in 1761.
The Smolny Convent & Cathedral is located in a remote part of Saint Petersburg so foreign tourist are rare here. The best way to get here is to go by bus, marshutka or taxi. There is no nearby metro station.
Today, the Smolny Cathedral is not occupied by the orthodox church and are mainly used as a concert hall. The surrounding convent buildings house various offices and government institutions.
A low perspective capture of the magnificent Smolny Cathedral.